UMD is making great strides toward achieving one of its goals of the Strategic Plan: sustainability. Not only is the university creating green buildings, but it is also creating green living. For this semester, the second floor of Ianni Hall has been given the name “The Green House.”
As part of their freshman seminar, 28 new students are participating in an experiment to see how many resources they can conserve compared to the rest of the building. For example, the students on the floor do their best to use less water and electricity.
The students also go on a field trip once per month. This month, the students will be hiking on the Superior Hiking Trail.
“Every single floor (in Ianni Hall) is metered separately, so we can actually measure how much water and electricity we use,” said Bryan French, UMD sustainability coordinator in charge of the project. “Does living in a community that’s intentionally sustainable make a difference?”
French described the program as a “living, learning community,” where students are able to come together with those who share similar interests in sustainability.
“While we aren’t all the same majors, we all want to be doing something that’s sustainable,” said UMD freshman and Green House resident Carissa Nelson. “One reason why I chose this school was because it has a big focus on sustainability.”
The seminar is worth two credits. Students meet twice a week to talk about environmental issues and learn about how people can slow down the damaging effects humans have on the planet.
“It’s the simple things that make the difference,” said Aaron Silberman, freshman and Green House resident. “When you want to change something, it’s not really acceptable to just say that you want to be greener. You have to give it direction. How are you going to be greener?”
Sustainability is part of UMD’s Strategic Plan, which was laid out by Chancellor Lendley Black in 2011. The university has its eye on getting LEED Certification, and has made steps toward making the campus more sustainable by constructing environmentally friendly facilities.
LEED is an organization that gives buildings bronze, silver, gold and platinum sustainability ratings. Ianni Hall was given a Silver Leed Certification earlier this year, and is the only LEED-certified residence hall on campus. The seven-floor building houses about 280 students.
The building features high-efficiency light fixtures and large windows that allow for maximum natural light. The windows are also insulated to allow the light in without losing heat.
Low-flow water fixtures in the building have reduced the water consumption by upward of 38 percent from the average building usage.
Other LEED-certified buildings on campus include the gold-certified Swenson Civil Engineering building, the Labovitz School of Business and Economics and the platinum-certified Bagley Nature Center Classroom.
UMD student Brooke Klemetsrud is the resident advisor (RA) assigned to watch over the Green House floor and help the new students get to know each other.
“The community is kind of already built,” Klemetsrud said. “(Green House residents) get to learn sustainability, and also live it and practice it. They want to be green. It creates a common ground for them.”
The project is only set to run this semester, but French hopes it is something that can continue in the future.
“We’re realizing that how we are living might not be the best for us to continue as a species,” French said. “Here at UMD, the students are learning about sustainability and are becoming part of a community of practice. These students begin to effect change, not just within their small peer group, but also institutionally.”
BY GRAHAM HAKALA